As development along the Brooklyn and Queens’ waterfront has increased dramatically over the years, transportation options—for residents old and new—has not. The number of glass towers, startups, and parks along the East River has only been matched by style pieces on new “it” neighborhoods from Astoria to Red Hook. But, now, the New York Times’ Michael Kimmelman has used his platform to launch a plan to change that equation, and give these neighborhoods the transportation system they deserve.
Vision Zero is coming to Brooklyn and Queens‘ Atlantic Avenue. Nearly eight miles of the notoriously dangerous thoroughfare will be transformed into the first of 25 planned “arterial slow zones.” Last Wednesday—at the busy corner of Atlantic and Washington avenues—Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced that the city is taking immediate steps to save lives by reducing the street’s speed limit from 30MPH to 25.
If world leaders don’t take unprecedented action to reduce greenhouse gases, nearly all aspects of human existence will be threatened by the “severe,” “pervasive,” and possibly “irreversible,” impacts of climate change. That’s according to a blockbuster new report by the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change, which lays out the devastating consequences of a warmer planet. The effects of climate change are already being felt, but, as the report warns, things are about to get much, much worse.
Amtrak is out with a new promotional video, and it’s targeted right at millennials. As UrbanCincy reported, “On the heels of kicking off their new Writers Residency program, where writers can ride intercity passenger rail for free, Amtrak welcomed 30 prominent new media ‘influencers’ on a long-distance train ride from Los Angeles to SXSW in Austin.”
In a story that’s equal parts Spy Kids and Man On Wire, a New Jersey teenager climbed to the top of World Trade Center on Sunday because… YOLO? The New York Post reported that the 16-year-old climbed through a construction gate a Ground Zero and got into an elevator at the World Trade Center where a friendly (confused?) construction worker took him up 88 flights. He then got out, climbed up the remaining 16 flights, snuck past a sleeping security guard, and hung out for two hours atop the tallest tower in America.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to announce that Mitchell Silver—chief planning and development director in Raleigh, NC—will be New York’s next Parks Commissioner. According to the New York Times, “While Mr. Silver has worked in North Carolina since 2005, he has deep roots in New York. He went to high school in Brooklyn and earned a bachelor’s degree from Pratt Institute and a master’s degree in urban planning from Hunter College.”
Wilson recently served as the president of the American Planning Association, and in the 1980s worked in the New York City Planning Department. With Wilson’s extensive planning experience, he would seem to be a natural fit to lead City Planning rather than parks—and he reportedly was considered for that post before Carl Weisbrod was selected. This has been a much-anticipated announcement, as the Parks Department as been without a head since de Blasio took office nearly three months ago.
The Forum for Urban Design and the Institute for Urban Design—two New York City organizations that promote, well, urban design—announced that they have merged, effective immediately. The new “Forum and Institute for Urban Design” will be led by co-presidents Michael Sorkin and Alexander Garvin and consist of 400 fellows. The organization will regularly be hosting roundtables, symposia, and debates about urban planning and development in cities around the world. The first program, on April 16, will be focused on the future of subsidized housing.
“I am delighted at the long overdue union of the Institute and the Forum,” Sorkin said in a statement. “Joining forces will yield a stronger voice on behalf of a progressive vision of urban design for New York, as well as cities around the world.”
The Municipal Art Society (MAS) has announced that New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman has been awarded the 2014 Brendan Gill Prize. The award will be officially presented by MAS President Vin Cipolla and Board Chair Genie Birch on March 25th. The annual cash prize is named in honor of the late New Yorker theater and architecture critic.
“Michael’s insightful candor and continuous scrutiny of New York’s architectural environment is journalism at its finest, and in solid alignment with the high standards of Brendan himself,” MAS President Vin Cipolla said in a statement. The jury was particularly impressed with Kimmelman’s calls to drastically improve Penn Station.
The every diminishing ranks of architecture critics suffered another loss, as Bloomberg News cut James Russell’s column, as a part of a larger reorganization/elimination of its cultural coverage. According to a post on Russell’s personal blog, Bloomberg is focusing on luxury and lifestyle coverage over arts and culture coverage.
Lebbeus Woods was a powerful presence in New York City and in the world of architectural thinking and expression. It’s still unsettling to think he is no longer here to push and provoke the world of architecture towards a more thoughtful and challenging practice. Though his ethical voice (his projects and writing can still be explored at lebbeuswoods.wordpress.com) and the demanding worlds he created inside his drawings will no longer confront the major issues of the day we still have his drawings to remind us of his thinking and vision. The first major retrospective of Woods career will open at the Drawing Center in New York on April 16, 2014 and was organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and is currently in view at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University (through March 2, 2014).
After promising to “end the tragic and unacceptable rash of pedestrian deaths” in his State of the City speech, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has officially unveiled his “Vision Zero Action Plan.” On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, near an area where three pedestrians have been killed in the past month, the mayor promised to address the scourge of traffic fatalities across the city.